The cooler fall weather is bringing everyone inside. What a perfect time to gather your family and friends around your table for great food and fellowship.
I’ve loved gathering for meals since I was a little girl. With our large family of nine seated around the table, we shared food and tidbits of our lives with those we loved.
I carried that love of family meals to my home when I married and had two little ones. Things changed when the girls became teenagers with jobs, sports and other activities that often made the 6:00 dinner hour a challenge. But, I clung to times of gathering around our table. We may have eaten at 8:30 p.m., but we came together several nights each week to share a meal, our “happiest things”, and how we spent our time apart.
Here are a few ways to enjoy meals with family and friends:
- Since the invention of Pinterest, you may think you need a table set with fine china and fresh flowers for your family to enjoy mealtime. Your table may be worn or wobbly. But don’t fret; it’s not the table and place setting, but the food and company that will seal the deal! Gather favorite recipes to cook for your family and friends. Let them help plan out the menu. Try a new recipe one night each week and vote – does it make it to the favorite list? Have a theme night each month such as Mexican, Italian or meatless meals. I have a friend who has Taco Tuesdays – one of her family’s favorite meals. Include family and/or friends in the meal prep. Maybe you have your own cook off? Be creative and have fun with mealtime!
- Make the kitchen/dining room table a “no tech zone”. Have a family rule that all phones, iPods, laptops, etc. are left in a basket or a safe place away from the table during meals. Also, no television viewing while you gather to eat. I challenge you to stick to this rule, even if you receive complaints and grumbles at first. Your family and friends will enjoy conversation, laughter and soon forget about missing a text!
- When my girls were growing up, I loved creating a place for our family to gather and enjoy meals that was beautiful, yet functional. I would scour through clearance items at stores and pick up placemats, cloth napkins, and centerpieces to decorate our table. It doesn’t need to be expensive to set a pretty table. Now as a single woman, I still love to decorate my table and eating area. I have a hutch where I display and change items each season/holiday. Make this a fun project and enlist the help of your family and friends. Plus, remember this advice from a friend, dishes and other items don’t need to match – think shabby chic and enjoy the hunt!
- After you have your family gathered, a great meal cooked, a beautiful table set and no cell phones, now what? Our family went around the table each night and shared our “happiest things” of the day. Or check out conversation starters; you can purchase at bookstores. Place these cards in the center of your table and encourage everyone to pick one at mealtime and answer the question. Even disinterested teenagers will enjoy this game-like way to promote conversation!
- Use this time around the table to pray together and share devotionals. This was easier when my daughters were young. So, when they hit the teenage years, I kept a devotional book in the center of the table along with a notebook for prayer concerns. This idea I gleaned from a Beth Moore book allowed our busy family to continue the habit of sharing our concerns even when we had meals apart. I have a friend that has a weekly family meeting on Sunday nights to discuss the upcoming week’s activities, work schedules, and things they want to do together. Your table will soon become the hub of your home!
So, set your table with mismatched dishes, serve a simple meal and gather your family for food and fellowship. What suggestions do you have for easy and fun mealtimes? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.